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Movie Review: Main Hoon Shahid Afridi

Published Aug 22, 2013 05:17pm


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For anyone vaguely interested in rolling along with Pakistani cinema’s new-blood revival would have given a smidgen of consideration to Main Hoon Shahid Afridi (MHSA), the ‘first’ Pakistani sports-flick dunked deep in family drama starring Humayun Saeed, Noman Habib, Javed Sheikh, Nadeem Baig, Ismail Tara, Shafqat Cheema – and about a gazillion cameos from anyone abstractedly linked to the industry.

Bearing in mind the bash of a premiere yesterday, think of the cameos as family-support for Mr. Saeedand Shahzad Nasib’s sure fire blockbuster; And, in case anyone forgets about either their or ARY Films’ – who distributes the movie along with Mandviwalla Entertainment – place in the industry, this is one extended family.

The love part from the industry is infectious, but it never seeps into the feature film; at least not directly. Mr. Saeed plays Akbar Deen, a pro-cricketer who’s the pride-and-joy of his familythat includes a mom, a pop (Mr. Baig), a wife (Mahnoor Baloch) and son. Akbar gets implicated with illegal drugs after he gets drunk by an orange juice drink and a (quite revealing) dance item by Mathira (the song is Masti Main Doobi by Neeti Wagh and Shani). It is – quite literally – a flash, which dumps Akbar in a jail cell and bats his career out of the cricket grounds.

Years later, Shahid (Noman Habib), an on-the-breadline prodigy youngster from Sialkot who works the cash register in a local restaurant, pushes the owner of his local cricket club (Ismail Tara, playing Malick Khalid) to try the team for a Pepsi-sponsored tournament. A few beats later, and rather vapidly, Akbar signs up as the team's coach.

Their rivals, silver spoons who reach the cricketing grounds by choppers, are employed by Mian Asif Qureishi (Mr. Sheikh senior), and includes Mikaal Qureishi (Shahzad Sheikh), Akbar’s son.

For those of us who are still biased to put MHSA along Chak De India, I have one thing to say: please don’t.

Mr. Saeed’s film written by Vasay Chaudhary, working from a scarred-underdog/least bet-team that wins the cup formula,devises enough deviations in its revved up pace to make the distinctions obvious. A few unresolved angles (the husband-wife split-up; the rich father-in-law vs. the cricketer son-in-law) do dig ruts within MHSA’s narrative. Nevertheless these are just minor botches that are easily swept under the rug by the speed of MHSA’s execution.

As performances go, I have a sincere advice for Mr. Saeed: stop acting for the small-screen.

Mr. Saeed, who mostly equips his acting arsenal with scowls and growls and a tear drop or two, kicks in some class nuances in unexpected nooks and crannies. And with 70% (maybe more) screen-time to his Akbar, Mr. Saeed becomes a central point of weight for MSHA.

Noman Habib, as the engaging rural Shahid Afridi, piles on the innocence, but more often than not his naiveté and unsophistication (acting wise) becomes rather apparent.Ms. Baloch is plastic, and like the most expensive kind is (unblinkingly) fixed in place. Ainy Jaffri, the big city girl with big,big eyes, who falls for Shahid is flimsy, because of the way she’s placed in the film – rather like Asym Mehmood, Ainan Arif and Gohar Rasheed, who are fairly good to average depending on the scale and cliché of their exposure.

Mr. Arif plays Michael Magnet, a Christian who makes way for some minor obligatory racial biasness.Like every conflict, the resolution is nippy if not shrewd (case in point: the estranged father-son dilemma between Mr. Baig and Mr. Saeed, which piles up, only to open a separate narrative track). Sometimes – for example, the climax and the cricket matches – the hastiness works against the anticipation.

Still, for a bulk of its entirety, MHSA swaps between characters one ends up rooting for: the roll-call includes Majeed Maulvi, the slightly racist, short-tempered Pathan played by Humza Ali Abbasi, Mr. Sheikh’s stereotypical villain Asif Qureishi and Mr. Cheema’s brilliantly played Bashir Bhatti, a worthless, gambling self-indulgent father to Shahid. The only other actor who stands up to Mr. Cheema’s vivid charisma and dexterity is Mr. Tara, whose presence even dominates Mr. Saeed in some scenes.

MHSA isn’t unblemished as far as technicality is concerned. A few issues with color grading (sometimes apparent within cuts in a continuous location), camera/resolution/sharpness issues in cricket matches (and no, we aren’t fooled into thinking we’re seeing a televised broadcast) pop up and fade away, oft times by the sheer aesthetic diligence of putting on the show. This aesthetic diligence includes three groovy songs by composers Shani & Kami – Jera Vee (Shafqat Amanat Ali, Shani), Angreja (Momin Durrani, Jabar Abbas) and Masti Mai Doobi; Malaal, the fourth song sung by Rahat Fateh Ali, is an adequate space filler.

Syed Ali Raza (aka Usama), coming from a television background, is proficient in setting up cinema-quality frames with a dastardly penchant to throw the BG out of focus in close-ups. He is also quite practiced in executing film-level performances from a bulk of his cast (of course, the expanded gamut and resolution of the RED camera helps here).

The problem with the industry is that no one wants to appreciate a good mainstream family movie – especially from people within the film fraternity. I could hear murmurs about art and intelligence, as soon as I ventured outside the screening. For these self-made connoisseurs of the medium, I only point to the deafening applause the film collected two or three times.

A film that looks good, keeps you engaged, lets you unwind and then coerces (some if not all) to wild-cheering is a product well-made – and as the tickets will tell – well-sold.

ARY Films and Mandviwalla Entertainment Present ‘Main Hoon Shahid Afridi’.

Staring: Javaid Shaikh, Nadeem Baig, Humayun Saeed, Mahnoor Baloch, Noman Habib, Annie Jafferi, Gohar Rasheed, Humza Ali Abbasi, Shafqat Cheema.

Directed by Syed Ali Raza; Produced by Humayun Saeed and Shahzad Nasib; Written by Vasay Chaudhary; Cinematography by Asif Khan; Editing by Asad Ali Zaidi; Umer Gulzari, Production Designer; Art Director, Jari Khushnood; Costumes by Jazib Qamar; Lyrics by Sabir Zafar, Nadeem Asad. PR handled by Syntax Communication.

The film is family friendly – given that one shields the young-one’s eyes when Mathira belly-dances like an Arab slave-girl.


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Despite living movies 24/7 (, the writer is still truly, madly, deeply in love with cinema; the root cause of this anomaly requires further clinical trials.

He tweets @kamranjawaid

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (34) Closed

malik awan Aug 22, 2013 07:40pm

What a poorly written piece. Grammar mistakes galore and disastrous sentence structures. I still don't know what the movie is about.. Shame on Dawn's editorial team for putting this on the world wide web.

Paki Aug 22, 2013 08:58pm

Honestly, what a bad article. You should really try to read articles from uk\usa news papers. And please, stop using ms word for hard synonyms! Seriously dude, thats pathetic journalism

Danish Mughal Aug 22, 2013 10:17pm

That Disclaimer! :D

The film is family friendly

Atif Aug 23, 2013 02:28am

So in the nutshell, the movie is good or bad?

Simmi Aug 23, 2013 04:23am

Nice review but how could you leave out wothout not even a mention of Summer Nicks who stole the show and shone in every scene. He also did give the best and most memorable line in the film, delivered in perfect Urdu. Bravo Summer Nick - Pakistan misses you.

Raza Aug 23, 2013 07:48am

Flop Movie.....Ek dum bakwas........kya gatiya movie banayi hai....won't recommend to anyone

Affan Usmani Aug 23, 2013 01:00pm

what a terrible example of pandering to the film's producers for reasons best known to whoever the writer is

zubair Aug 23, 2013 02:30pm

Disappointed by the cast portraying Shahid. At least he should look like a fair pathan.

Moviefan74 Aug 23, 2013 02:46pm

I've been reading many of the movie reviews by this author and they are getting worse each time. This writer has no opinions about the movie in most of his reviews, but only likes to show off by using jargon. The writing is unreadable and unintelligible and has barely any sense of grammar that we all learn in grade school. Surely, Dawn must have better writers than this?

Uzair Fazl-e-Umer Aug 23, 2013 03:48pm

I am excited to watch this movie

Bilal Aug 23, 2013 04:34pm

No comment on the film but this a TERRIBLE piece of writing. Does Dawn have proofreaders any more?

Lady in red Aug 23, 2013 04:50pm

WOW, GR8 At least a Pakistani movie on some different topic rather than the traditional style.

RBS Aug 23, 2013 04:56pm

@Paki: Have you ever read articles from uk/us newspapers especially the new york times or village voice. Now that is hard English. I have read your comments time and again and all you do is bash. Honestly, go read tribune or jang and stop coming here.

a side note: this movie is on my list to must watch as soon as it gets released in the U.S.

RBS Aug 23, 2013 04:56pm

@Atif: Good. I would like it if Dawn puts up a rating for the movie so that we know how good the movie is Aug 23, 2013 05:31pm

i love you

Adnan Khalid Aug 23, 2013 06:53pm

@Uzair Fazl-e-Umer: a Must watch movie awesomeeeeeeeeeee

Raza Aug 23, 2013 08:11pm

Flop Movie!!!!!Don't waste your money on it.....

Adil Aug 23, 2013 08:13pm

torrent py kab ari e yeh ?

ABC Aug 23, 2013 08:41pm

What did i just read??!! SImple question, is the movie good or bad? This article is not useful.

Indusonian Aug 24, 2013 02:43am

The nation as a whole need to support movies since they need support badly due to tough competition with mediocre Indian movies. In my opinion all Indian movies are not worthy of spending money at all because viewing them negates two nation theory - key ingredient in the formation of this land of pure.

Faraz Aug 24, 2013 08:17am

I don't get what's with the bashing of the reviewer? I've been reading his stuff here and all of them are pretty good and funny. And I for one am looking forward to "Main hoon Shahid Afridi" its about time we got entertainment rather then message heavy movies that have come out so far from Pakistan.

Fahd Aug 24, 2013 12:36pm

Very nice review. I really liked the last two paragraphs in particular.

And Dawn and its editors too deserve a lot of credit for not demeaning a movie just because its media sponsor is a rival media house. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said about some other Pakistani media outlets, which have a tendency to either completely ignore a production affiliated with a rival media house or to completely thrash it.

Keep up the great work Dawn.

Sajjad Aug 24, 2013 02:46pm

Mr. Writer, use the language which makes some sense and helps the readers to understand your opinion as a reviewer. Your piece would not let readers to go and watch such confused-jargon-depleted movie, for DAWN's sake.

Afrooz Aug 24, 2013 03:45pm

Well, I agree with some of the comments here. This is a singularly bad piece of writing. Not only are sentences are too long but their structure and phrases are poorly chosen. I gave up reading after the first 3 paragraphs.

Kind Teacher Aug 24, 2013 05:03pm


Gosh, did you read the last paragraph? If so, should you not 'try' to comprehend what the reviewer is saying instead of expecting him to spoon-feed the reader by explicitly spelling out everything like one would to a five year old? We are all grown-ups, no, who can, hopefully, undestand some uncomplicated English?

Ali khan Aug 24, 2013 05:40pm

This review really helped my decision to watch this movie or not. Awesome review and interesting choice of words. Keep up the great work. i will definitely watch Main hon Shahid Afridi...

Ali Aug 24, 2013 07:56pm

Awesome review but need more depth.

M.Khan Aug 24, 2013 08:28pm

I have seen Main Hoon and it's was good watch. btw- I don't find the review confusing. and what is this question about if its a positive review or not, well you got to read it to understand it.

A film that looks good, keeps you engaged, lets you unwind and then coerces (some if not all) to wild-cheering is a product well-made

Saad Aug 24, 2013 08:42pm


sobia abbasi Aug 24, 2013 09:37pm

the movie was has some loop holes but its worth watching it..all i havr to say is "its amazing" and every pakistani should watch it

sobia abbasi Aug 24, 2013 09:38pm

its a catchy movie and a must watch..

Imran Siddiqi Aug 24, 2013 10:15pm

Good review it's time to revive the films of Pakistan particularly Urdu Movies.....

Sidra Aug 25, 2013 01:20am

@Sajjad: Mr writer is facing a dilemma. He actually hated the movie, but since he was invited to the exclusive media launch where the movie was probably praised beyond reason to please the fraternity, and all the guests were probably convinced that the criticizing the movie will be regarded as an unpatriotic act, he seems to be holding back. I however feel absolutely no remorse when I say the movie was BAD!! it was a Pakistani movie trying to hard to be an indian movie and failing miserably in the process. Acting was below average, the plot was weak and unresolved, and the songs and vulgarity was uncalled for.. the movie has such great potential as a sports flick, in a cricket loving nation using the name of the closest thing we have to a present day national hero.. but it was BLAH! I hope another newspaper has the guts to submit a more realistic review..

nasir ismail Aug 25, 2013 04:26pm

I am feeling very strange ,after reading this review .which is half technical and half amateur .I think in this current situation if Pakistani make this kind of movie, it is fantastic piece of movie making where every thing is unorganized and situation and business environment is highly risky .at least appreciate the Production teams efforts.what so ever this kind of stuff is not seen in many years in Pakistan .this is a first step to clear the rust and dirt .every gender and age group are liking this , i being cinema owner fully appreciate the work of whole team and distributor and Ary. .